ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday expressed the hope that the United States would not interfere in growing bilateral relations between Pakistan and Russia.
FM Bhutto-Zardari was in Russia on a two-day official visit during which both sides, according to APP, agreed to pursue initiatives to deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields, including education, economy, energy and connectivity.
“As far as interference by other countries are concerned, I expect that they will not interfere in bilateral relations between Pakistan and Russia,” the foreign minister said during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. He was replying to a question whether Pakistan has managed to receive guarantees from the US that it will not block the [energy] deal or impose sanctions.
“We absolutely will do whatever is necessary to provide our people they require. The people of Sindh, Balochistan, South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been devastated by a natural catastrophe and recent flooding have thrown up severe economic challenges and we will do whatever we can to reduce difficulties of poor people of Pakistan,” he added.
Bilawal, Lavrov agree to pursue education, economic and energy cooperation
However, the foreign minister evaded a question in what currency Pakistan would pay for Russian oil.
He said Pakistan could act as a bridge between super powers. “Pakistan sees itself as a bridge builder between super powers as we equally value our relation with the US and Russia.”
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) were also discussed during the meeting before the joint presser.
In reply to a question about the Ukraine conflict, Mr Bhutto-Zardari called for resolution of the issue through diplomatic means, saying that developing countries like Pakistan were facing consequences in terms of its economic impact, according to APP.
“We have a firm belief that all conflicts can be resolved peacefully and there are no obstacles which diplomacy cannot surmount. Ukraine conflict is no exception. Developing countries like Pakistan are facing negative consequences of the conflict in terms of economic impact,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.
He expressed the hope that the strong tradition of diplomacy of Russia would help achieve the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan considered Russia an important player in the West, South and Central Asia, and it would keep up high-level contacts with it.
He said their friendly and detailed discussion encompassed all aspects of bilateral relations and regional matters. He said both countries were celebrating the 75th anniversary of their bilateral diplomatic relations and that Pakistan desired to strengthen its cooperation with Russia in the fields of trade, security, defence, counter-terrorism, education, and people-to-people contacts.
He also recalled the summit-level meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand as well as the 8th Inter-Government Commission meeting held in Islamabad focusing on trade, economy, and energy cooperation.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan and Russia had good cooperation on Afghanistan, and wanted to achieve common goals of peace and stability in the war-torn country.
In reply to a question about Russia-Pakistan military cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia was satisfied over its military cooperation with Pakistan. He said the two countries were holding regular military contacts, including joint exercises and military training.
He said the elimination of terrorism from the region was directly linked with Afghanistan, and they had agreed to use the capacities of SCO, particularly its Contact Group on Afghanistan, for the purpose.
Mr Lavrov said that during their meeting they discussed building humanitarian, cultural, and educational links.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023